When you work at home or on the road, you may find yourself working in a common space from time to time. The people in your life–especially those who have never freelanced or run their own business–will tend to treat this time as “office hours” when you are free to chat, answer questions, and generally shoot the shit. At first, this is fun. You think, “Working from home is a non-stop party! Come one! Come all! Let’s chit chat!” Then, you start bargaining with yourself–rationalizing the two hours you chisel out of your day to laugh about Diane Sawyer’s sloppy Tues-cast. You try to tell your friends, your family, your partner that even though you’re on the couch, you have to concentrate. They plop their computer in front of yours and surf in silence–until they start snickering over a cat meme or talking to themselves about politics.
I’ve found, it’s best not to be snide when you’re working in a public area and repeat interrupters can’t take a hint. I mean, chances are, you care about these people. And you’ll still have to deal with them after you unplug. So, instead of starting a spat, sometimes just need to pretend you give a shit and power through it, while staying focused on the task at hand.
Here are a few of my favorite tips for pretending you give a shit when people are interrupting you while you work:
- Repeat what they say with emphasis on a different word and nod
- Nod more
- Say “Yeah…” then nod again
- Shake your head from side to side as if to say, “What are you gonna do?”
- Breathe in audibly through your nostrils
- Scrunch up your mouth as if you’re speechless or thinking really expressively
- When they laugh, laugh harder
- Wrap your fingers around your chin and look at the floor
- Just keep nodding
I have to admit I’m applying this wisdom as I write this post. Roberto’s snoozing in the home office/bedroom and I’m in the kitchen finishing my work for the night. Our lovely roomies are at the table sipping beers and talking about old friends. And I’m nodding.
Tip #27 for working with heart – distract repeat interrupters by pretending you give a shit.